By the Freestyle Skiing World Cup Website
The FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup got back to action for its first competition of 2018 in thrilling style on Saturday, with Britt Cox of Australia and Mikael Kingsbury of Canada claiming victory in the city where moguls made its Olympic debut 30 years ago in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The highest placer from the United States was 2014 Olympian Brad Wilson of Butte, Montana, who finished in sixth place, his highest mark of the season. Casey Andringa of the United States placed seventh. Wilson ranks 11th in the World Cup men’s moguls standings and is No. 2 among United States mogulists. Troy Murphy holds down the No. 9 World Cup spot for the highest ranking among USA contestants. Wilson’s older brother, Bryon, has been battling injuries, but is expected to join in the competition at the January 10-11 World Cup moguls meet in Park City, Utah, according to reports. Performances on the Deer Valley course will be important in determining team members for the United States’ entries into next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
With relatively mild temperatures and the sun breaking through the clouds over the moguls venue at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park, a big crowd was on hand to watch Saturday’s moguls action, with some top-level performances on display as the skiers gear up to hit the homestretch ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games coming up in February.
Cox on Saturday returned to the form that saw her win last season’s moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes, as well as the first World Cup of this season in Ruka, Finland, putting down solid runs through qualification and the first round of finals to make it into the six-skier superfinal ranked comfortably in third behind Canadian favorite Andi Naude and Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan..
In the super final Cox put down the type of run we’ve come to expect from her after her stunning seven-win campaign in 2016/17, with her technical precision and clean airs offsetting her slightly slower time scores.
After scoring a 82.11 in her super final run to leapfrog Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont’s score of 81.64 and Canadian Dufour-Lapointe’s 81.30, Cox was left to watch Galysheva and Naude’s runs and hope for the best. And the best is just what she got when both those skiers had mistakes in their runs that would see them lose out on potential podiums, with Galysheva finishing fifth and Naude fourth.
“I had a great start in Ruka and I was really excited at the start of the season, but then I didn’t ski my best in Thaiwoo,” Cox said, recounting her previous performances this year, “But I learned some lessons and I was able to build on that with my training over the holidays and I’m really happy with my skiing today.
“We have a really quick turnaround now with two events coming up in Deer Valley and I’m really excited for that. I love that course and my family will be there to watch me so it should be a great competition.”
Both Laffont and Dufour-Lapointe scored their first podiums of the season, and the two skiers who were ranked second and third, respectively, behind Cox last season were visibly relieved to finally be back in the top three. For Dufour-Lapointe, her podium at Calgary on Saturday was her seventh in eight attempts, with her only failure to make the top three coming in her rookie season, back in 2010-11.
With the win, Cox was able to overtake the USA’s Jaelin Kauf for top spot on the moguls rankings, with 256 points to Kauf’s 240.
The last time Kingsbury finished anything but first was at last year’s Calgary event, when Matt Graham of Australia toppled him with an inspired performance. Since then, of course, Kingsbury has been essentially perfect, with 10 straight wins leading up to Saturday’s competition. Upon his return to the scene of his last second-place result he put in what was perhaps his best performance of this season, pushed by a serious threat from the man who would finish the day as the runner-up for the third time in 2017-18.
Because although Kingsbury has been taking down wins like clockwork, the men’s moguls World Cup remains essential viewing this season as Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Reikherd hounds Kingsbury at every turn, elevating his own game and in turn forcing stronger and stronger performances from the Canadian.
Saturday was perhaps the best example of this, as the burly Reikherd put down a hard-charging run that included a risky inverted 1080 off the top air bump and the second best time of the super final to give him a score of 86.43 – the highest score of the day up to that point.
However, Kingsbury has proven himself up to the challenge time and again over the course of his career, and Saturday was no different, as he put down perhaps his best run of the season on the tough Calgary course to earn a score of 89.55, the win, and his 11th straight victory to further his record-setting streak.
“Dmitriy put a lot of pressure on me today,” said a smiling Kingsbury from the finish area, “When I heard his score up there, 86 something, my heart started beating faster. But I managed to take some deep breaths and calm down, and once I got on course I just let my skis do the talking and stuck to my game plan. Somehow every time in the super final lately I’ve been able to do the performance that I want, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
As mentioned, the runner-up result in Calgary was Reikherd’s third of the season, and he sits second behind behind Kingsbury’s perfect 400 points with 240. Third on the day was the aforementioned Graham for his third straight podium of the season, making the end result of the day in Calgary a mirror of the World Cup standings, where Graham also sits third.
From Calgary the moguls World Cup now moves south to the famed slopes of Deer Valley at Park City, Utah, where a pair of back-to-back night competitions are slated to take place under the lights on January 10 and 11.
— Compiled by Bruce Sayler for buttesports.com